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Bisola Adeniyi and Yagazie Eguare : Conversing ‘The Boss Ladies’

Five years ago, a women’s ready-to-wear clothing brand, Lady Biba and Photography Company, GazMadu studios came together to launch out The Boss Lady Portrait Campaign to celebrate women. The campaign is poised to help women in thriving businesses that have transcended Africa into the global stage, as well as document women across different fields providing relevant solutions to world problems and inspire female entrepreneurs to dream big.
Championed by Bisola Adeniyi and Yagazie Eguare, the campaign will create a safe space to foster effective partnerships and collaborations between women, transform lives and businesses through images that are beautiful, powerful and capture their true essence.
In its first year, The Lady Boss Portraits themed, ‘Own your story,’ which encourages women to standup and live out their dreams; ‘Be your Beautiful’ headlined 2020 campaign geared towards celebrating the uniqueness and beauty in every woman. 2021 came with the theme ‘Be your story’, a movement to raise women to walk their walk, while 2022 campaign tagged ‘Winning together,’ showcased amazing female relationships across different age groups, work, business dynamics and industries.

This year’s campaign themed, ‘Beyond Borders’ is focused on highlighting African businesses and providing solutions to the world regardless of location in an era where migration has become appealing for young Africans.
In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, The Lady Boss Portrait campaign promoters shed light on women putting Africa on the global stage through the work they do, as well as their resolve to inspire female entrepreneurs to create solutions that transcend borders.

‘The Lady Boss Portraits Campaign Is A Challenge To Status Quo’
With a degree in Economist, Bisola Adeniyi is a fashion designer who runs one of the most popular and renowned ready-to-wear fashion brands in Nigeria. She is the founder and CEO of Lady Biba, a made in Nigeria multi award winning women’s ready-to-wear clothing brand that caters to the Modern Corporate woman.

After her university degree, Adeniyi took a course at the London College of Fashion, with a Google certified training in Digital Marketing. Before starting Lady Biba, she worked with Arise Magazine Fashion week and Thisday Style, and has been mentored by renowned Nigerian fashion industry veterans, including Mai Atafo, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, and Omoyemi Akerele.

Passionate about youth development, especially for women, she was inspired to launch the Rookie Entrepreneur platform (https://instagram.com/rookieentrepreneur), which trained 30 women in business and technical skills within its first year. She continues to share her knowledge through her Youtube channel; https://youtube.com/bibiadeniyi, with over 1000 subscribers, especially young talents seeing to build a career in the fashion industry.

You run RTW women’s clothing brand, what inspires the designs you create to give women the desired look and feel?
I’VE always been drawn to powerful looks even as a child. I don’t know if it’s because I was born in the 90’s and the fashion of that time and the 80’s was power looks. I’ve always drawn inspiration from that era, but I also love the 50’s and that’s where I draw inspiration for our feminine looks.
I love to explore dynamics; I love borrowing elements from menswear and elements from architecture for structure. Just like in architecture, there’s always function to every design and this is my ethos when I design. I love when clothes are not just aesthetically pleasing, but also serve a purpose or function to the wearer.

How important is clothing to professional women?
I believe showing up how you want to be seen by the world is very important. Your style via your choice of clothing and accessories allows us to communicate even without speaking.

Being ‘well dressed’ is subjective and always changing with time, but in a professional setting, it’s important to be taken seriously, so your outfit will speak for you before you utter a word.

What has been the impact of the Lady Boss Portrait campaign over the years?
Based on the feedback of the women who have participated, I would say it’s the mindset shift that has happened. A lot of women tend to take the backseat especially when they run their own businesses or at a comfortable place in their career. The campaign is a challenge to status quo; it’s an inspiration to take charge instead of being in the passenger seat of your life, and it’s an inspiration to many women to see other women like themselves who are doing just that.

This year’s theme is focused on putting Africa in the global space. How would you assess the growth of your brand?
The last couple of years have been super challenging, but it has also shown the strength of the Lady Biba brand. This is our 10th year in business and our fifth year doing this collaboration. Both the Gazmadu brand and Lady Biba brand has grown tremendously, in spite of the pandemic and economic situation of the country.

Lady Biba launched its US operations in 2021 and we have shipped to over 10 cities in the US and to other countries. We also have a growing customer base in Ghana, France and in the UK. It’s not easy, but we are resilient and pushing through, which has paid off in terms of revenue and customer growth for the brand.

How can we get more women to become successful and rise to the top as you have done? What tips do you have for younger women?
I think first of all, we need more communities fostering safe spaces where people can share and learn from each other is important. I also encourage women to learn for free as much as they can. I personally listen to a lot of podcasts and read books to expand my knowledge. Continuous learning is very important. I also share my experience as an entrepreneur as well as tips for small business owners trying to scale on my YouTube channel: YouTube.com/bibiadeniyi.

Secondly, have a strong sense of self; the world will have its own standards that can be superficial. I believe young women should spend time getting to know themselves by journaling, reading and spending some time in solitude reflecting as much as they can. Don’t get distracted by vanity metrics and what looks good to others. Be self-aware, have a vision for yourself and align yourself with people who match that.

‘The Lady Boss Portraits Is Geared Towards Inspiring Women Across Industries To Show Up Authentically’
YAGAZIE EGUARE is a renowned professional photographer, a creative force, an educator, and a leader within the photography industry who is changing the narrative of photography in Africa through her premium photography brand – GazMadu Studios. She is the lead creative and founder of GazMadu Studios, a premium award-winning photography company on a mission to amplify the essence of people through the power of Photography.

Gazmadu Studios specialises in timeless portraits, documentary photography and documentary films for weddings, corporate organisations and more, including comprehensive education resources for creatives and a thriving photography community.

Eguare began her journey in 2012 and has risen to become one of the most recognisable portrait photographers in the photography industry, attracting premium clients of different nationalities. A trained Doctor of Optometry, Eguare answered her calling to photography through an opportunity provided by the Future Enterprise Support Scheme (TFESS) to start a new adventure as a full-time photographer in 2014. Drawing on her breadth of experience from building an internationally recognised photography brand, she is also on a mission to elevate the perspectives people have on photography in Africa, the value and contribution of creatives of African descent, hence she founded the Gazmadu Education platform, a trailblazing education platform equipping and empowering creatives across Africa to enhance their skills and build successful, thriving businesses. Her education platform has impacted over 7000 photographers till date.

What informed your passion for photography?
I believe my love for photography stems from seeing my dad create a lot of images of us when I was growing up and also my genuine love and interest in people. I’d say photography found me long before I knew I had passion for it. My connection to photography as a whole started while I was a young girl. I would always see my Dad’s camera and be so fascinated by it. I loved seeing him take pictures. I loved going to the studio and would just look at pictures in wonder. I always wanted to be the one to take every one’s picture or document moments happening at home.

The very first time I was asked by an uncle of mine what I wanted, I quickly shouted, ‘a camera!’ I think I was 11 then. When my sister and I got it, it meant everything to me. The first time I traveled to the UK, I saved up all the pocket money I had and bought my first Kodak camera. The joy I felt couldn’t be described; I was elated and it felt so good. I had no knowledge about photography, but I loved it all the same and kept exploring the different aspects by myself.

Over the past 10 years of being a photographer and evolving in my journey, my love and passion for photography have been deeply connected to my genuine love and interest in people, their stories and seeing them become more.

Photography comes in diverse specialties, what do you consider your strength and how are you evolving?
Yes, photography is beautiful and widely diverse. I specialise in portrait and documentary photography, because of my connection to people and stories. Through the help of God, I believe my super power would be the ability to create the very best images of the everyday woman irrespective of her age, size, height or race that truly captures her essence, makes her feel loved and empowers her to be so much more.

I see beauty in everyone I encounter and I believe so much in the power of photography to ignite the possibilities that exist in anyone that steps in front of my camera.

The Lady Boss Portrait campaign has been on and in its fifth year, what stands this year out and why should any woman subscribe to the campaign?
This year marking the fifth edition is an opportunity for us to stop and acknowledge the incredible journey we’ve been on in the last four years and the impact the Lady Boss portrait has had on over 200 women who have participated over the years. A journey I am deeply grateful to God for and to Bisola for being the best woman to collaborate with.

The Lady Boss Portraits is geared towards inspiring and empowering business and career women across industries to show up authentically, speak up confidently and live out their best lives through timeless and beautiful images that not only gets them the attention they need for their business, career or stories, but most importantly, completely transforms the way they see themselves.

This year’s campaign themed ‘Beyond Borders’ is set to spotlight women who have built businesses and/or careers with global relevance/impact and also inspire more women to push beyond the borders (cultural, mental, emotions, etc.) preventing them from becoming more.

How can more women rise to the top and live their dreams?
More women can rise to the top and live their dreams by rooting their identity in their creator and believing that they have all it takes to be all they want to be, standing up boldly and unapologetically for what they believe in. By problem solving from a global perspective and not just within our immediate environment, intentional thinking and believing bigger about who we are and what we do so that we can experience the fullness of our possibilities.

By being committed life long learners so that we are empowered to recognise and maximise the opportunities that are around us, show up more powerfully and exceed people’s expectations through the results we achieve. Women should intentionally support other women and be the reason another woman rises and by engaging the power of our God-given femininity wherever we are and in whatever we do.

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